All self-respecting nations protect and preserve what makes them who they are. History teaches that these self-respecting nations end up being teachers and masters of philistines (un-cultured).
Black people in Africa have been the perpetual learners, imbibing all sorts of teachings, thus becoming followers by any given names. It is not shocking today that a lot of us are Christians, while some of us have found salvation in Islamic faith, Mormon, Bhai even Hinduism and Buddhism. We have not only hated our parents for not having money, but our history of ‘errors’ too.
Isiko lokoluka (‘circumcision’) has been a process where a boy is transformed into manhood, a self-respecting man. In our traditional society a man has been a pillar of the society. A man symbolized security, development and pride of the community. Under going ‘circumcision’ was to ensure that each boy knows what the secrets of his home and his community are. A baton of trust was handed over by the elders to this new man who will be a torch bearer, a pathfinder and a new warm blood injected into a community to take the needs of the community to the next level.
The ritual was never something for discussion in any gathering either than the circumcision school. An initiate (umkhwetha) was hidden from the public, and was taught a new language, a language not spoken in the village. That language encapsulated the essence of respect i.e, how to respect a dog, a tree, water, etc.
Today things have changed. We see initiates walking in the freeways of Mdantsane from this side to the other side of the free way. We see initiates in the trains, in the busses and taxis. Sometimes we see them going home to their mothers to complain about the traditional nurses. Shocking still, we see them going to shops, and we wonder, what the hell has befallen our beloved ritual of transforming a man?
In many a times, cases are reported of initiates who raped girls and older women. We learn about cases where initiates killed a person. Thus we continue to wonder, what went wrong?
When these boys return from the bushes, they terrorize each other like no body’s business. In fact, they become gangsters who go about in groups, menacing those who are not belonging to those ‘chosen’ groups, or those who belong in smaller groups. What they have done, is changing what used to be. I mean, upon returning from circumcision, initiates used to visit those other initiates who underwent circumcision in other areas, but in the same period, the purpose being to share experiences.
Doctor Bevan Goqwana (former MEC of Health in the Eastern Cape), exacerbating the problem, saw nothing wrong with taking helicopters to the bush to film initiates. A lot of us wondered, where is the Department of Arts and Culture in this regard? Why doesn’t that department do or say something about this anomaly? Other guys said to me, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan, once went to address Xhosa Chiefs in the ‘Transkei’. His address necessitated that President Mbeki go and apologize. That means the department of arts and culture is an apology for this country.
Be that as it may, initiates continue to die in the bushes.
(Funani ka Ntontela Writes To Himself and He is Allowed)